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Cost of Living Increase: Pensioners

Volume 718: debated on Monday 11 July 2022

3. What steps her Department is taking to support pensioners in the context of the increase in the cost of living. (900972)

Mr Speaker, I hope to be a better Pensions Minister than the one from whom I have just inherited the job.

The United Kingdom Government have provided £37 billion-worth of support for those most in need, including pensioners. Some pensioners will receive in excess of £1,500 over and above the state pension, which is up this year.

I thank the Minister for that answer, but pension credit figures show that an estimated £1.7 billion goes unclaimed. Not only are 850,000 families missing out on this essential support, but they are also ineligible for the £650 cost of living payment. Will the Minister consider extending the cut-off date for entitlement to that payment to next March? Will the Department finally look at a proper benefits take-up strategy such as the one we have in Scotland?

The hon. Member will be aware that, by reason of the pension credit awareness campaign from April and in particular the pension credit day of action on 15 June, the numbers for pension credit have massively increased—by well over 275% for that period. He will also be aware that there is a huge effort being made to ensure that pension credit take-up increases. I ask all hon. Members please to encourage their communities to apply. Finally, he will also be aware that pension credit is retrospective, so people have until 24 August to apply and still be entitled to the £650 cost of living payment that this Government will be making from Thursday.

Following the resignation of the Prime Minister, there is a real risk that the House turns in on itself. I want to draw the Minister’s attention to the serious cost of living crisis facing families and pensioners in this country. Sadly, the Government broke their promise to keep the triple lock on the state pension at the very time that inflation was starting to rise. As a result, pensioners struggling to get by have each lost more than £500 this year. How can the Minister possibly justify letting down pensioners in this way?

I was the Minister who saw that the Labour party at the time did not object to our taking the actions we did in respect of the triple lock. The hon. Gentleman talks about a loss but, as he knows, the state pension was less than £100 in 2009, before the Government changed in 2010. He also knows that we have now virtually doubled the state pension and that there is in excess of £1,500 extra money going to pensioners this year, by reason of the winter fuel payment, the cost of living support for those who are most vulnerable, the council tax rebate worth £150 and the energy support fund, which arrives on or around 1 October.

The reality is that even before the Pensions Minister scrapped the triple lock, taking £500 out of the pockets of pensioners, the UK had pensioner poverty rates higher than small independent European countries. We now know that the Chancellor is reviewing the corporation tax rates, which were intended to raise £50 billion over the lifetime of this Parliament. How can he guarantee that the triple lock will not be sacrificed once more, trapping pensioners in poverty just to pay for Tory tax giveaways?

As the hon. Gentleman will be aware, the United Kingdom Government have provided £37 billion-worth of support—[Interruption.] Oh, we most definitely have. That takes the form of four different payments over the next six months and is a real support to the most vulnerable in our community. Without a shadow of a doubt, we will continue to support those most vulnerable.